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Avian Influenza

Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the evidential basis was for her statements that birds vaccinated against avian influenza continue to spread the virus. [56673]


 
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Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 7 March 2006]: The use of vaccination against outbreaks of avian influenza in recent years has been well documented in many scientific articles and papers. The reporting of this field use of vaccines has been complemented by more controlled laboratory studies. My officials have examined the published material and consulted with experts at the Veterinary Laboratories Agency.

It has been a frequently recognised feature of the use of vaccine in the field that vaccinated birds can continue to allow spread of the virus, whilst not showing typical clinical signs. This is particularly true if large numbers of birds have been vaccinated.

It is therefore widely recognised that the most important factors in any Al control programme are continued biosecurity, early detection, separation of poultry from wild birds, the slaughter of diseased birds and dangerous contacts, and movement controls around outbreaks. However, we keep the policy on vaccination under review in the light of scientific developments in vaccines.

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Avian Influenza

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Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what her policy is on whether poultry kept in a control area as pets or for a hobby and which have been vaccinated against H5N1 avian influenza should be culled. [55413]

Mr. Bradshaw: No birds in the UK have been vaccinated against avian influenza. Although vaccination offers potential disease control benefits, at the current level of risk, available vaccines are too limited to provide a fully effective or efficient solution.  In the event of an avian influenza outbreak, we would control the disease by culling all birds on any infected premises and dangerous contacts. Depending on veterinary risk assessment advice, additional strategies could include a cull of flocks in the immediate area to prevent the spread of disease. These arrangements are described in Defra's published Animal Disease Contingency Plan.